Scotland through a lens

Friday 29 February 2008

Hill and Adamson, North Street, Fishergate, St Andrews; Baiting the Lines, 1843-46.

A St Andrews’ academic has published the first book to present a survey of Scotland’s role in the history of photography.

Dr Tom Normand highlights the many eminent Scots engaged in the invention, development and triumph of the art form in his work “Scottish Photography: a History”.

The book explores the spread of Scotland’s photography from the major cities to the towns and villages of the countryside and throughout the Highlands and Islands.  It also casts an eye outwards to explore those Scottish photographers who set to work in Canada and America, India and Kashmir, China and New Zealand, and throughout the globe.

John Adamson, 'Tableaux', circa 1850 Special recognition, however, is allowed to the town of St Andrews for it was there, during the early history of photography in the 1840s, that townsfolk and university professors advanced the development of the medium and created some of the most important images in the history of photography.

Dr Normand, from the School of Art History, said, “The glorious work of these renowned St Andrews photographers, along with examples from other major Scottish photographers, is now held in the University Library, a principal resource for photographic historians throughout the world.  Many of the works held there furnished the illustrations for this book.

“It was Sir David Brewster, Principal of St Salvator and St Leonard’s Colleges, who would correspond with William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the paper-negative and calotype, and set a fashion for photographic experiment in the town.  His immediate circle, Hugh Lyon Playfair, Dr. John Adamson and Thomas Rodger, would become distinguished photographers of the town and its people.

“Moreover, it was David Brewster who introduced Robert Adamson to David Octavius Hill and so initiated the most significant partnership in the history of photography; that of Hill and Adamson who remain to this day pre-eminent figures in the canon of photographic history.”

David Williams: 'Portrait of Aly Bain, Musician', 1995 (book cover)

The book provides a thematic study of all aspects of photography from Scotland.  Exploring the nature of portraiture, landscape, documentary and fine art photography, it examines the rich visual world of Scotland’s photography from the invention of the medium until the present day.

Dr Normand continued, “Early and experimental images are set alongside contemporary works in order to open out the ways in which the photographic image has engaged issues of history, culture, identity and character.

“In this respect the book presents the history of the photograph as a history of the nation in all its complexity, diversity and awe-inspiring wonder.”



Dr Normand will be talking on this project at the National Gallery of Scotland, The Mound, Edinburgh, on 1st April at 12:45pm.

‘Scottish Photography: A History’ by Tom Normand, is published by Luath Press, Edinburgh
ISBN-10: 1906307075 ISBN-13: 978-1906307073



Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Fiona Armstrong, Press Officer on 01334 462530 / 462529, email [email protected]
Ref:  Scotland through a lens
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